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1:15 PM  October 4, 2021

TSU scientists to reduce number of infectious ticks by editing DNA

© пресс-служба Томского госуниверситетаTSU scientists to reduce number of infectious ticks by editing DNA

TOMSK, Oct 4 – RIA Tomsk, Vyacheslav Matvievsky. Scientists of Tomsk State University (TSU) intend to determine which microorganisms that cause encephalitis or Lyme disease are most often found in ticks intestines; this allows modifying these microbes in such a way that when they are introduced into an infected tick, the individual immediately dies, the university's press service said on Monday.

It is noted that scientists at the Department of Genetics and Cell Biology and the Department of Invertebrate Zoology of the Biological Institute (BI) of TSU, investigating the microbiota of ticks - carriers of tick-borne encephalitis, borreliosis (Lyme disease) and other infections, intend to identify microorganisms that most often inhabit the gut of infected arachnids – in this organ, dangerous microbes breed. "Experimental" are taiga tick, Pavlovsky tick and meadow tick.

"Once symbiont microbes are identified, scientists will be able to modify them with genomic editing technologies, such as by introducing a toxic agent. When the tick meets the natural microbiota with infection, the mechanism of toxin release into the gut cavity will be triggered, which will lead to the death of the infected individual," the report said.

As the representative of the press service of the university explained to RIA Tomsk, in practice this can be implemented in various ways. For example, to release females into nature who have undergone "modification" in the laboratory. If such a female becomes infected with the disease, the toxic agent will be released into the intestines and she will die. Thus, she will not be able to bring sick offspring – from 1000 to 2000 individuals.

According to the scientist of BI TSU Alina Kokhanenko, the new method will provide a point effect on the tick population, without completely eliminating it, because the existence of ticks is necessary to preserve the natural balance. The alternative will also reduce the number of anti-glue treatments that affect other ecosystem inhabitants, in addition to ticks, and reduce the negative impact on the environment.

© пресс-служба Томского госуниверситета
A tick

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